Truck bed / SUV tent. but home made?

Discussion in 'Vintage & Off The Wall Campers' started by dbhost, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    It's going to be a while before the pop up happens for me, and in the mean time, with the truck starting to come back together and get prepped to go, I am looking for a way to get AC into the truck topper. The problem is my truck has a 6.5 foot bed, so a short queen mattress barely fits.

    My thought process, for better or worse has me looking at a little tent of sorts that covers the open end of the truck if I were to leave the truck cap hatch open, and the tailgate down. There is only one commercially available unit, the DAC Full Size truck tent, but it really doesn't facilitate the AC well.

    I am considering rigging something using a silver Harbor Freight tarp, gorilla tape, probably some shoe goo adhesive, velcro to close the door flap, and bungee cords. I am thinking I should be able to rig something that will allow me to hold the AC up so that it blows across the bed instead of the storage under the bed. The Arctic King 5K BTU mechanical AC from Walmart is super inexpensive, and super small, plus the 5K BTU rating should be WAY more cooling than the space requires.

    So my next steps are...

    #1. Finish the build of the new engine, install, and verify everything is good...
    #2. Finish stripping and repainting the used Leer 122 truck topper. Change the locks so I have a good lock that only I have a key to.
    #3. Finish the bed platform build.
    #4. Make the truck end tent.
    #5. Load up.
    #6. Gas up.
    #7. Head out for the maiden voyage. Most likely Crystal Beach. Good place to test. Far enough to be a fun trip, close enough to be able to run home should something with the rig go bad.
     
  2. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    You would think 5000BTU will work, but the 5000 Cool Cube is a vacuum cleaner in our Aliner Scout above 80 degrees in the sun. Of course the way it and the ducts are installed is totally illogical on Aliner's part. It turns back into an air conditioner about sundown, with three additional fans running.
     
  3. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Well, I am figuring on the following.

    #1. The truck topper I am working with has the carpet kit with insulation. Not sure what the value of the insuation is, but can't be worse than a pop up or Aliner.
    #2. The space I am looking at air conditioning is going to be approx 4' tall at the tall end, from bed to roof, a hair over 5' wide, and with the extension, just under 8.5 feet long. The gap between the bed platform, and truck bed is covered with carpet to reduce heat / air movement, and opening of the storage area will be covered, probably with Reflectix and velcro.
    #3. The windows will be covered with insulating blackout curtains, velcroed to the headliner.

    The main thermally weak space is going to be the tent end. And again, I am planning on using a silver tarp, and possibly reflectix to reduce heat gain. The tailgate to truck bed gap will be filled with pipe insulation once set up to eliminate heat gain there...

    It is possible, maybe even likely that the roof at least, of the topper will be coated with Henry Tropicool to further reduce heat gain.

    My main issue as you can tell is heat.

    Now an Aliner is great, please don't get me wrong, but they are known to be very thermally leaky around the roof / wall joints. If you watch Slim Potatohead on youtube, he has a ton of mods to his for keeping heat in, instead of out (he's Canadian). He seems to be a fan of pipe insulation and pool noodles.

    Interior volume wise, the Aliner is actually considerably larger than say your typical cargo van camper conversion, and I have seen LOTS of van campers converted with through back door window unit ACs, using the Walmart 5K jobs, and literally no insulation whatsoever, with reasonable in the shade parking, that rig works pretty well, however totally get the issue.

    It's all a matter of BTUs in, vs. BTUs out.

    Of course this time of year, the camper shell is going to be the cool space... The less than fun part? The privy tent. How the heck am I going to get shower water cold enough to take a comfortably cooling shower in camp?

    On the CoolCube. I am not familiar with them, so I googled them. Perhaps I got the name wrong, those look like industrial spot chillers not actual air conditioners for RVs... I thought the Aliner uses an LG model with an upward firing vent instead of the normal straight through arrangement. Pretty nice idea...
     
  4. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    Our 2018 Scout came with the 5000 Cool Cube installed. The wall mount AC had to be better. I see the 2020 models have the AC back in the wall.
    Below is from my 2018 Aliner Scout review on the Portal.

    Cool Cube AC (5000 BTU) is undersized and struggles to cool in nice 80 deg weather. It's not even hot yet. A camper sold in the south (Georgia) should handle the southern climate.

    Despise the Cool Cube AC controls. Four little buttons (Reset, Mode, Up, and Down). No common sense way to cut on and off. Just adjusting the temp is a pain. Give me something user friendly with intuitive controls like a house thermostat.

    The placement of the AC is far from ideal. You are sleeping on top of the unit. It sounds like an 18 wheeler is idling on the site next to you.

    Uninsulated AC ducts condensates on outside and drips in the under bed storage compartment. Southern issue. This needs to be dried out after camping. It also limits what is stored there. Aliner would not supply insulated duct to replace under warranty. Update: I replaced them myself.

    AC vents are beside the return air vent, which sucks. You have to aim AC vents up toward the center of the camper. The return air duct should be run to the dinette area during manufacture. When you pull the bed out, an AC cave is formed. The bed has a bottom lip for a stop. With the air aimed up, it hits the lip and is turned down, you basically lose AC by trapping it in a tiny compartment with the return air vent. Cool Cube senses return air temperature for control; the camper will never cool with AC air trapped in a cave. We run two small fans at the vents to push the cool air out before it is sucked back in the return. A larger fan on the dinette blows toward the peak to push the warm air down. We add a small evaporation cooler on the dinette end, that helps when needed. Update: Drilled holes in the fire extinguisher holder to act as the cold air return vent.

    Return air filter is a foam sheet stapled to plywood! And it is under the back bed / couch setup. Even a cheap Walmart AC has a removable filter that can be cleaned. Common sense. I'll have to modify that soon.

    Had to troubleshoot the AC the first day in Florida. Shop had left the breaker off when checking ducts condensating. Discovered the Cool Cube is encased in plastic cardboard. Even the power connection compartment cover is plastic cardboard. I am not used to things being built this cheap. No wiring diagram in "owners manual".
     
  5. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like that "Cool Cube" might be an Aliner specific thing. I could be wrong of course...

    Sounds like an engineering failure. No shortage of those...
     

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